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Selling differently

Technology is transforming the way companies operate, do business and deliver products and services. With customers becoming better informed and technology savvy, the role of a sale representative - traditionally the first touch point for a buyer or a retailer - has undergone a transformation.

 

"The most important change has been with respect to customer relationship management," says Hemendu Sinha, business head, B2B.

 Deo Shankar Tripathi, chief executive officer,Aadhar Housing Finance, agrees with Shah. "Even five years ago the sales representative used to go out with brochures and leaflets demonstrating product benefits to customers. This has changed completely with the growing popularity of digital marketing. More so for companies that are into selling financial products and services. For us marketing through the in-person (branch-based) model has reduced drastically. Websites and apps have replaced the traditional way of approaching and selling a product to the customer. 

"Recognising the growing role of technology in improving customer targeting and effective marketing, companies across industries are equipping their sales forces with new age tools and techniques.TakeSu-Kam, that manufactures solar inverters, batteries, UPS, home inverters, solar panels and other solar products. The company has introduced a slew of data analysis tools for its sales representatives. Kartik Sachdev, marketing head (solar), Su-Kam Power Systems, says, "Through these tools our sales representative can effortlessly share product information with customers, on-the-go. These tools provide quick access to information, eliminating the need and struggle to capture orders from multiple sources. Technology has empowered the sales team to make quick decisions and close more deals in a short span of time."The sales representative at Su-Kam can now leverage data analysis tools to access proposal files and product catalogues anywhere anytime. Technology innovation has helped the company improve employee productivity and accelerate business growth. The thing to remember is that, while adoption of technology lends more transparency to the process of setting up key performance indicators for the sales representatives, it has also put more pressure on these teams.

"They are the ones who are under constant pressure to familiarise themselves to new technologies and continuously acquire new skills," says LG's Sinha. While the proliferation of sources of information has made the customer savvier than ever before, it has also meant that sales people stay one step ahead of the customer in terms of product/market knowledge and in their ability to support the customer in decision making. Ashok Gangar, director, sales and marketing,Anchor Electricals, says, "The new-age sales force has more accountability and prima facie are business owners and strategists for their respective areas, moving on from being transaction-oriented executors. Managing the bulk retailers is easier with technological competence as technology and the-internet-of-things have made logistics and accounting easier."

Given that, he says, there is growing demand for a workforce that is technology savvy and doesn't get frazzled by data. As distribution channels become fragmented, sales people have no option but to leverage these new mediums to interact more effectively with traders and big businesses. Apart from improving efficiencies and bringing in transparency in various processes, adoption of technology has greatly impacted the traditional relationship between a seller and a buyer. "The increased speed of information transfer increases the speed of relationship building and that has a positive impact on the speed of customer acquisition and business growth," claims Ujjwal Mukhopadhyay, chief executive officer,Sami Direct. Today, with the snap of a finger, a consumer can find any company, product or service information through various search engines. And as technology impacts the speed of information transfer, it also impacts the speed at which relationships can be built and trust between the seller and the customer can be attained. With the aim to empower its distributors and establish a close link between the company sales person and distributors, Sami Direct has adopted automated purchase order workflows. It helps sales teams and distributors in offering real-time logistics and fulfillment capabilities to maintain the optimum inventory levels at stockist locations.

The use of technology has also impacted institutional selling significantly. Snehashish Bhattacharjee, global chief executive officer and co-founder,Denave, a global sales enablement organisation, says, "The requirement of a salesperson in institutionalised selling, that is, in the business to business scenario, will never go away. The advancement in technology has indeed helped in streamlining and automating a few processes that has led to increased sales effectiveness." He says technology has made targetting easier while selling to institutions. Tools such as smart database access platforms help create desired leads. He says marketing automation strengthens the process of identifying a prospect to finally moving her to the nurturing phase. "Technology enabled account management tools and platforms reduce the need to map organisations manually. These trends are further fuelled by developments such as mobility adoption, cloud penetration and analytics," says Bhattacharjee. As organisations go about infusing technology across functions, the biggest challenge is training the workforce in identifying and leveraging the best tools and techniques. Shah of LG hits the nail, when he says, "The industry stills goes by old tools to train people. Organisations need to create training tools that are live and more specific to real scenarios."

Source: Weekly News

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